Entries in Memorial Service (2)


Kim Jong Il's Body On Display, Viewed by North Korean Officials

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korean state media continues its special around the clock broadcast, displaying massive public grief over the loss of its leader Kim Jong Il.

The new leader, his son Kim Jong Un, was seen bowing Tuesday -- tight-lipped and fighting tears -- in front of his deceased father’s glass coffin decorated with red flowers known as “kimjongilia blossoms.”  He slowly circled the bier inside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace dressed in a black funeral suit looking solemn, followed by 20 to 30 senior party members and military officials.

Analysts in Seoul, South Korea, believe this is the main group in control of North Korea at the moment, including his uncle Jang Sung-Taek and aunt Kim Kyong-Hui.  Both are reportedly the mentors of, and the weight behind, the young Kim.

In a 10-minute long video, Jang was seen standing together with his political rival, Oh Keuk Ryul, known to be a key player in military affairs. Jang’s wife and Kim Jong Il’s only sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, was spotted wiping tears with her handkerchief.

The Kumsusan Memorial Palace is where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il’s father and national founder Kim Il Sung has been on display since his death in 1994.

In Seoul, the government expressed sympathy, offering condolences to the people of North Korea.  After a day of intense discussions on what would be an appropriate level of condolence, South Korea announced that it will not send delegation to Pyongyang.  But travel permissions were given to family members of the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun.  North Korean delegates had participated in the funerals of the two men who were behind the historical summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000.

In respect of the official mourning period that North Korea set until Dec. 29, South Korea’s Unification Ministry also announced that it will ask church groups to cancel the lighting of Christmas trees at the demilitarized zone scheduled this week. The trees were one of the symbols of psychological warfare which North Korea in the past had labeled as a serious provocation.

A two-day state funeral will begin at the Kamsusan Memorial Palace on Dec. 28.  According to state media, foreign delegations won’t be invited and entertainment will be forbidden in the country during the mourning period.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Zealand Memorial Service Announced for Quake Victims

Martin Hunter/Getty Images(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- A national memorial service will be held in New Zealand on March 18 to remember those killed in the earthquake that rocked Christchurch last month, Prime Minister John Key announced Monday.

The service will be held at North Hagley Park in Christchurch.  The government is also expected to introduce legislation to make the date a provincial public holiday in Canterbury.

"The service will allow people the chance to reflect on the terrible loss of life suffered as a result of the earthquake and the huge impact it has had on our second-largest city," Key said.  This is an opportunity for Christchurch to mourn together.  It will also be a chance to celebrate the lives of those who have been lost."

The 6.3 magnitude quake has claimed the lives of 166 so far but officials believe the death toll will rise to more than 200 as recovery efforts continue.

Key also said on Monday that an estimated 100,000 homes were damaged in the Feb. 22 earthquake and up to 10,000 others would have to be demolished because they were beyond repair.

"There will be some homes that can not be rebuilt and, as a result of the second earthquake, potentially, some sections and some areas of Christchurch which will need to be abandoned," Key said.

"We will have to present other alternatives for people to live in because the land has been so badly damaged we can't fix it, certainly not in a reasonable timeframe," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio